North Carolina Tar Heels vs Duke Blue Devils
Running back Elijah Hood hopes to build off his best game of the season when his 17th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels visit Duke Blue Devils on Thursday night in a battle for the Victory Bell (Enter Contest). Hood, who has battled nagging injuries all season, rushed for 168 yards in last Saturday’s 48-20 victory over Georgia Tech as North Carolina kept hopes of a trip to the ACC Championship game alive.
North Carolina is on a good stretch with three consecutive victories, but they must be alert against the Blue Devils, who have dropped three in a row by a combined 16 points. Duke has been ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball and hung in during most games, falling 24-21 to No. 22 Virginia Tech last week. The Blue Devils have given up 111 points in losing the last two meetings with North Carolina.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (7-2, 5-1 ACC)
Hood’s improved production enhances the Tar Heels’ potent passing attack, led by junior quarterback Mitch Trubisky and senior receiver Ryan Switzer. Trubisky completes 70.3 percent of his passes for 2,707 yards and 19 touchdowns with only two interceptions while Switzer boasts 70 receptions for 728 yards. North Carolina’s offense put up 636 yards last week, the seventh-most in school history. Switzer, who owns the school record for career receptions (218), is 92 receiving yards away from passing Quinshad Davis (2,614) for second on that list. The defense has even picked up its game, giving up an average of 15.7 points during its winning streak.
ABOUT DUKE (3-6, 0-5 ACC)
The Blue Devils lost starting quarterback Thomas Sirk before the season and leading rusher Jela Duncan went down a few weeks ago as chances of a bowl trip dwindle. Freshman quarterback Daniel Jones has performed well after replacing Sirk, completing 62 percent of his passes for 2,037 yards with 11 TD strikes to go along with nine interceptions and rushing for another 375 yards and five scores. Junior Shaun Wilson is the top rushing threat (449 yards) remaining and sophomore T.J. Rahming leads the receivers with 42 catches for 409 yards. The Blue Devils are 4-7 against nationally ranked opponents since the start of 2013.